A wide range of infectious agents cause abortions in cattle. These include the serious (now) exotic zoonosis bovine brucellosis and diseases that can markedly impact on herd fertility such as pestivirus, leptospirosis and neosporosis. Therefore, an investigation into the cause of bovine abortions is usually warranted.
An 8kg foetus was aborted from one of a mob of 28 Hereford cross heifers. The first and second calf heifers that had all previously been pregnancy tested in calf. The heifers had been vaccinated with 5 in 1 clostridial on 10th March 2011. The abortion was discovered on the 28th April 2011.
The foetus was hairless, with uniform salmon pink tissues and had a crown-rump length of approximately 60 cm. It had patches of subcutaneous red fluid consistent with oedema over the flanks and abdomen.
E. coli is occasionally cultured from foetal stomachs and is presumed to be cause of this abortion. E. coli along with bacteria such as Arcanobacter pyogenes, Aeromonas spp, Fusobacterium necrophorum and Streptococcus spp are regarded as non-contagious pathogens that presumably infect the foetus following a maternal bacteraemia. These organism mostly cause abortions in the second half of pregnancy but are usually sporadic and of minor importance (Parkinson, Vermunt and Malmo 2010).